Studying in Sri Lanka

Studying in Sri Lanka

The higher education system is similar to that in the UK, with first degrees, masters and doctorate-level qualifications on offer. It is overseen by the University Grants Commission (UGC) which monitors and maintains the standards of university education, allocation of funds to higher education institutions and the admission of students.

There are 15 state universities in Sri Lanka. The main ones are:

  • University of Colombo
  • University of Moratuwa
  • University of Peradeniya
  • University of Sri Jayawardhenapura
  • University of Kelaniya
  • University of Ruhuna

There are also various private universities and institutions. A full list which sets out how they compare in world rankings is available from the Ministry of Higher Education Sri Lanka.

Your best chances of being offered a place at a university in Sri Lanka are if you are on an exchange programme or your parents work in the country.

What courses can you study?

Postgraduate courses are available in business and management, computer science, IT, engineering, accounting and various others. They typically take one to five years to complete. Online study resources are available for many courses which help students prepare for the Sri Lankan examination system.

Some institutions based in the UK, USA and Australia have campuses in Sri Lanka and offer accredited courses, so it is possible to study for international qualifications in the country.

Courses are available in English. If this is not your first language you may need to provide evidence of your proficiency or take English language tests.

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

For a postgraduate course you would typically need a first degree. Mature students with substantial work experience are welcomed and will be considered for postgraduate or undergraduate study as appropriate.

Some institutions follow the old system of three academic terms while others are made up of two semesters. The academic year tends to start in September or October so you need to make sure you complete any applications well in advance of this. Check with individual institutions for specific deadline dates.

Information and application forms can be obtained directly from institutions or from the University Grants Commission (UGC). The documents that need to be submitted with any application include a letter confirming eligibility to study and copies of relevant educational certificates.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees have to be paid and vary between courses and institutions. Living costs and tuition fees are generally lower than those in the UK. Check with the individual institution for specific costs.

A number of government scholarships are offered to international students in Sri Lanka. Applications need to be made through the Ministry of Higher Education, which can also provide further information. It is worth checking directly with institutions to see if they offer any scholarships or help with funding.

Are there any exchange programmes?

Demand for international qualifications continues to grow and a number of UK institutions are establishing courses run jointly with institutions in Sri Lanka. Contact individual universities to see if they have any connections with Sri Lanka.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Check with the university or higher education institution where you are hoping to study to see if their qualification is recognised or has an equivalent in the UK.

Do you need a visa to study in Sri Lanka?

UK citizens need to have the correct visa to be able to study in Sri Lanka. You need to get this before travelling, as you can't convert a tourist visa into a student one once you're in the country.

You will need to apply for a residence visa under the student category through the Department of Immigration and Emigration in Sri Lanka once you have been accepted onto a course. Part of the documentation you need to provide will be a letter from the university.

Your visa will be valid for one year and can be extended annually if the length of your course is longer than this.

Written by AGCAS editors, November 2016